Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Challenge by Shermaine Williams

Do you fear I’m some sort of dirty old man?

Despite herself, she felt compelled to check her e-mail as soon as she awoke the next day and wasn’t entirely sure about how she felt when she found a message from him, patiently waiting to be opened.

Her conflicted feelings caused her to open the e-mail with some trepidation even though she was eager to do so. She was expecting an answer, not a question, but at least he went on to explain.

Meet me. You can find out for yourself how trustworthy I am.

He went on to provide a link to his website where she could view his work. She didn’t even bother with the pretence that she wasn’t going to look. After clicking the website address, she clasped her hands together tightly and wondered why the new window was taking so long to open.

When it finally did, her heart beat faster as she looked at the images of naked women in various poses. It somehow seemed wrong, she felt bad but not enough to make her stop looking.

She didn’t know exactly what she thought she was going to see, but she certainly wasn’t expecting them to be so...well...beautiful. They were artistic, almost sensual, but she was sure that all the photos were posed by models, as they all looked fantastic.

She could never look like that. That was her mindset and that was exactly what she told him in her reply.

That was that. There was nothing more to say and, as she clicked send, she hoped that was the end of it. The sense of closure she got from sending her final response was very effective and she quickly forgot about the surreal exchange as she went about her day.

She was surprised to find another e-mail from him when she got home that day—couldn’t he take a hint?

After reading your story I never would have thought you such a prude.

Prude? She couldn’t believe what she was reading. This guy—who didn’t even know her—was actually making a judgment about her character. How dare he!

I imagined you threw off your inhibitions to write your wonderful story and mistakenly assumed you were the same in your real life.

It got worse. She was enthralled by the veiled insults and read the words several times over.

How could he be saying these things? It was utterly ridiculous! The short message had her so riled up that there was no internal debate about whether she should reply or not—her fingers flew across the keys as she composed her cutting response, outraged that she had to defend her personality.

Not that she knew why, but she felt the need to assert the fact that she definitely was not a prude. She had to make him aware of that, as if his thinking of her that way would somehow be bad. She was vibrant and open-minded, not some crotchety old woman, so she insisted that this stranger accept what she was telling him.

His reply was almost instantaneous. In fact, she was still seething when it pinged into her inbox.

I nearly believe you. The challenge remains extended—make me believe you.

Lucky Charms by Marie Rochelle

“I can go over there and talk to her. I’ve done it before,” he muttered to himself. “All I’ve to do is walk about ten steps and I’ll be there.” Hurry up before someone else beats you to it. Checking his appearance one last time in the mirror on the wall, Patrick Kaye slowly made his way over to the woman across the room.

He was proud that he made it without losing his nerve. Taking a deep breath, he touched her on the shoulder. “Hello, Jada. I didn’t think you were going to show up.”

A pair of eyes that made him think about steamy nights in the bedroom glanced at him over a smooth brown shoulder. “Hey, Patrick,” Jada Michaels smiled. “I’m surprised to see you here, too. I didn’t think these corporate parties were your thing.”

“Mr. Street told me I had to be here or it wouldn’t look good for the promotion. I would rather be at home,” he answered honestly. Patrick wondered, could Jada see how fast his heart was beating underneath his shirt.

“Well, he is right. You were a big part of everything coming together. We couldn’t have done it without you. I know that I owe you so much. You were so sweet to stay all those last nights here with me.”

“I didn’t mind staying here with you,” Patrick mumbled, pushing up his glasses with his index finger. “I lov—like working with you.” He prayed that Jada didn’t catch his slip of tongue.

“Oh, you’re such a sweetheart,” she grinned, making a deep dimple pop out in her right cheek. “I like working with you, too. You’re such a wonderful guy. I’m really surprised that your girlfriend isn’t here with you.”

How can I want anyone else when I’m in love with you? Patrick thought to himself.

“Hmmm…I don’t have a girlfriend,” he retorted.

“Really,” Jada exclaimed and then she pushed his glasses up again when they started slipping on his face. “You’re a cute guy. What’s wrong with these girls out there?”

Patrick moved from one foot to the other, trying to hide the erection Jada’s innocent touch just gave him. “I think most women think of me as a…”


“Geek or nerd,” he replied. God, he knew that he wasn’t in the same league of guys that Jada dated. In the three months that his office had been across from hers, he never saw one guy that wasn’t model perfect come out of her office. She dated pretty boys and he wasn’t anywhere close to Brad Pitt or George Clooney.

“Let me tell you something. If a girl is too dumb to see how charming and kind you are, then you don’t need her. Don’t waste your time on her,” Jada said. “I’m beginning to think most of my friends have their heads screwed on wrong lately. I swear these past couple of months my friends have set me up with the worst men.”

“You’re not dating anyone? I thought you were seeing that guy named Evan,” Patrick stated. Could he really be this lucky? Maybe this was the chance he had been hoping for.

“Evan is a good friend and we go out a lot, but I’m looking for a guy that will romance me,” Jada sighed. “Someone who will think about me first instead of himself, but that will never happen to me. I seem to draw all of the losers.”

“Have you ever thought that your soul mate might be right in front of your face?” Patrick asked, sliding his hands into his pockets so he wouldn’t touch Jada. The warm scent of her perfume was making him hot. He wanted to touch her so badly and couldn’t. The main reason was she only thought of him as her co-worker/buddy and nothing else.

“Well, my soul mate better step up his game because I haven’t seen him. All I see in this room are men who enjoy making money and not much else.”

You’re so wrong about that, he thought.